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Toledo Nurses Strike Over Understaffing, Scheduling

May 14, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

TOLEDO, Ohio—Before almost 1,900 nurses, lab technicians, and support staff went on strike at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center May 6, United Auto Workers Locals 2213 and 12 had already agreed that a three-year contract would raise pay by 2%. But money’s not the main problem, union leaders and rank-and-file members say: Understaffing and constant on-call status are. “I was on call 2,200 hours last year,” surgery nurse Michelle Powell told the Toledo Blade. “No one wants to work their shifts and then be on call for 20 days straight.” The UAW has tried to get St. Vincent to limit on-call hours to 750 a year. On-call status used to be reserved for emergencies like a late-night car accident, says Kelly Trautner, interim CEO of the Ohio Nurses Association, but it’s now very frequently used to compensate for understaffing. The overwork means “they end up being fatigued, which puts patients at risk,” she added. “On-call is an industry standard,” St. Vincent management said in a statement May 10. The hospital’s nursing staff has shrunk from 1,200 in 2007 to about 950 now, Local 2213 President Sue Pratt told the Blade. Read more

May 14, 2019

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